I’m 40 weeks + 3 days pregnant, lying on the exam table while the doctor tells me my cervix is “posterior” (aka impossible and painful to check). I’m begging God to let me be induced since the stubborn gene seems to run strong in my girls, and he gives me a glimpse of hope… the OB says she can put me on cervadil. Cervadil is a magical drug they give over-due women, to help relax the muscles and get labor going. It’s not a guarantee that labor will get going, but it’s better than sitting at home, trying ever wives tale you can google to induce labor yourself. All it took was a few hours on cervadil to put my into labor with Sophie, so I had high hopes.
I’m 40 weeks + 4 days: We get to the hospital for my cervadil treatment around 6 pm. They ask me if I had eaten any dinner yet, and I said no because I genuinely hadn’t been hungry before we left. They recommended I eat some thing before the treatment, since I won’t be allowed to eat until the next morning. I tried to make a practical choice; What if I do go into labor? What if I throw up? This led me to choose a simple cheese pizza instead of the gyro platter I was really craving. While the pizza is being cooked at our friendly neighborhood Dominos, the nurse sets up my hand to be ready for an IV (which is actually more painful than you’d imagine). Next, a girl from the lab comes to take 5-6 vials of my blood. Naturally, I’m irritable because I’m thinking There is no guarantee the cervadil is even going to work. I may be sent home in the morning, and then I will have spent a night in the hospital being poked and prodded for nothing. Unfortunately, it wasn’t really optional, so I kept my complaints to myself… and my husband (which he always appreciates–not). Pizza is ready! Now normally, I’ll only eat 2-3 slices of pizza, but J insisted that we each eat half of the pizza pie since I wouldn’t be able to eat again until late in the morning. When we had finished, we called the nurses in to tell them we were ready to begin the treatment. Before they do anything to a pregnant woman, they “check” you. This means some one sticks their fingers way down into lady town to determine how dilated you are. The whole point of cervadil is to relax a completely closed cervix so that its ready to dilate for labor. Well, they check me to confirm that I’m closed and SURPRISE! I’m 3 centimeters dilated, and the monitors are saying that I’m having contractions 5 minutes apart. I was in labor and didn’t even know.
I know that sounds ridiculous. How could you be laboring and not know? Well, the answer is simple: the 3rd trimester of pregnancy leaves you hella uncomfortable ALL THE TIME. So was it labor? Was it just my daughter doing pirouettes in my belly? I didn’t know! My waters didn’t even “break” yet. I was simply relieved to know that my pregnancy was actually going to come to an end. The IV gets hooked up, they start running fluids as I beg them to only put me on pitocin only if they HAVE to, and if they do “have to,” then only a minimal amount. Next, a nurse who appears to be in her 60’s and acts liek she’s been a nurse since being born in that very birth center, tells me that they have a c-section happening down the hall so the anesthesiologist can do my epidural while he’s here. Well that would be fantastic, except that I don’t want my epidural until I’m to 4 centimeters. Why, you ask? It can slow you contractions and increase your chance of needing a c-section by 50% if you get one while still in early labor. As I’m explaining this to the aged, superior nurse, she’s giving me a blank yet condescending stare. When I finish with my lesson she simply says “I’ve been working here a long time and never heard that.” Now I know I’ve never been to nursing school, but there’s undeniable evidence (which a different nurse from that same hospital had previously confirmed for me) that getting an epidural too soon can increase your risk of needing a c-section… BUT OK. I’m in labor and really don’t feel like fighting with godly, all-knowing nurse, nor do I want to miss my shot at an epidural for good, so I tell her ok whatever.
A different much more chipper nurse enters the room and tells me the anesthesiologist is outside and going to start setting things up in my room. She then leans in and tells me “This doctor is grumpy, ok? He’s gruff. I don’t want you to take it personally once he’s in here. He’s a very good doctor, I’ve worked with him many times, but he’s just gruff, ok? So I just wanted to warn you.” Gruff doctor? Pssh. I just had gruff, patronizing nurse, so I think I can handle it. Wrong — I could barely handle it. I’m having contractions and the damn blood pressure sleeve is squeezing the crap out of my arm and he want’s me to “sit still.” No – he doesn’t “want” it – he demands that I sit still. He is annoyed with every slight twitch and wince. I pray to God, that he can help me be as still as Lot’s wife, and it must work because the doctor tells me he is beginning to thread the epidural into my back. Then, very suddenly, an unimaginable pain that feels like hot lightening shoots down through my right leg. Tearing painfully through my inner thigh until it travels down into my toes, subsiding there. Reflexively I jump. I had no control over my body whatsoever. “I threaded the tube too far–” he says with a heavy, irritated sigh, “i burst a blood vessel here… it’s not your fault.” He releases me of accountability without actually saying sorry. Interesting social tactic, I’ll hold on to that one. Anyway, he decided to leave the tube in at a 2 cm depth instead of his usual 5 cm “I hope it doesn’t come out,” he tells me. How assuring. Was that critical information I needed to be having anxiety about for the rest of my labor? Because I’m thinking you could’ve just whispered that to the nurse as a “heads up” on your way out. More good news” only the right side of my body is numb, and I can feel every sensation in my left leg. If you remember, this happened during my birth with Sophie, although I was somewhat numb on both sides during her birth. This time, it was a night and day difference. Completely immobilized on the right, feeling every thing on the left. “Well, that must just be the way your anatomy is” shrugs the anesthesiologist, before waltzing our of the room. Crack job, doctor!
For the next 4 hours, I’m rolled around on the hospital bed, as the nurses attempt to have the epidural drip, with the help of gravity, into the left side of my body. It must work, because I’m able to get some sleep, waking occasionally because of some hormonal hot flashes. My husband is a rockstar during these 4 hours as he repeatedly gets me ice chips, spoon feeds them to me, plays with my hair, and wipes me down with cool washcloths. Eventually he falls asleep in the recliner next to me. around 4 am I begin to feel an intense and horrible pain… only on my left side. And at this time I’d like to extend an apology to my period cramps and PMS hormones. I’m sorry if I ever complained about you; you are CHILD’S PLAY to the demonic power of labor contractions.I call the nurses, begging them to relieve me, secretly wondering if my epidural has slipped out like the doctor suggested it might — nope still intact — damn, my “anatomy.” Before the nurses can give me any additional meds, the of course have to check me… SURPRISE AGAIN. I’m 7 cm now, and they say they’re going to get set up for me to start pushing. It’s a whirlwind from here on out. J is clearly disoriented as he emerges from the recliner, but becomes immediately more aware of his surroundings as I begin screaming. “I’m scared you guys!” I announce to the whole room, in between contractions. At this point, I’m seriously doubting my ability to have a natural birth on the left side of my body, and a completely pain free experience on the right. I’m telling J I can’t do it as both he, and an additional nurse are trying to tell me I can. I mean, It’s not really optional at this point. “So, are you actually feeling pain? Or is it just pressure?” Despite my love for this nicer, night-shift nurse, I want to slap her in the face. I don’t scream when I feel pressure, I scream when I am in PAIN. In fact, let’s look at the pain scale shall we?
I felt like saying “Which face currently resembles mine? That’s should give you some clarity on the whole ‘pain vs. pressure’ issue.” Yes, I wanted to say these things, but the only thing I could utter were shouts and moans because, guess what? I was having a very painful contraction. Besides, at some point, enough pressure will eventually cause pain, am I right? That debate is for another time… Now, they position me to delivery the baby, when I’m told the baby’s amniotic sac is hanging out. If you’re not familiar with a “mermaid birth” I can tell you it’s an incredibly rare occurrence when the woman births the entire amniotic sac with the baby inside it, so her water never breaks. As you can imagine, giving birth to a water-balloon with a child inside is much more difficult than your typical birthing situation. They pop my water. J says I seemed to not be in so much pain after that, while I have a very different recollection. I recall feeling like a white hot knife was being slowing driven into the left side of my abdomen. They call a man in green scrubs into the room in a last minute attempt to relieve my pain before the baby is born (literally, seconds before the baby is born).
The doctor comes in, admits she’s half asleep, then delivers my baby. Everything is perfect. Cora Grace was born at 5:15 am, latched on and nursed right away. 8 pounds even, 20 inches, J and I held our little bundle and cried. No matter how tough, annoying, or scary the birthing process is, it is always worth it.